Archive for September 20th, 2011

Hands Off Our Land: Women’s Institute joins battle to save the green belt

 

Hands Off Our Land: Women’s Institute joins battle to save the green belt

The Women’s Institute is joining the fight against the Government’s controversial changes to planning rules and is calling on its 208,000 members to write to their MPs and organise public meetings.

Ruth Bond, Chairman of the National Federation of Womens Institutes, in her London office Photo: GEOFF PUGH

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Posted19 September 2011, by , The Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group Ltd.), telegraph.co.uk

 

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Ruth Bond, the chairman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, said there was a “groundswell” of concern among her members about the new National Planning Policy Framework, which includes a presumption in favour of ”sustainable development”.

The WI joins groups including the National Trust, the Countryside Alliance and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which fear that the new rules, that distil thousands of pages of planning rules into fewer than 60, will allow builders to develop green belt land. The Daily Telegraph is also running a Hands Off Our Land campaign urging ministers to reconsider.

However, a group of 22 businessmen claim in a letter to The Times newspaper today that the “creaking” planning system is driving investors away and threatening economic recovery.

The group, which includes Simon Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, Sir Stuart Rose, the former Marks & Spencer chairman, and Ron Dennis, the executive chairman of McLaren, claim that the Government “must tackle head–on the sluggish pace and disproportionate costs of planning”.

But the criticism from the non–political WI could cause nervousness in Downing Street. Mrs Bond said her advice to members was to “write to your MP, newspaper, where someone will listen, where it might make a difference, never give up”.

She added: “It is not a call to arms, but a call to the pen, a call to discussion and conversation around where you live.

“See what is happening in your area, whether they have got development plans in place, if not see what can be done about that.

“Don’t give up until you get the answer that you feel is what the country needs. It’s not the personal thing, it’s the whole community.

“Engage your community in conversation, do call a public meeting, raise the issue, because there will be lots of people in villages who don’t know anything about this.”

When Tony Blair was Prime Minister in 2000, he was slow hand–clapped and heckled during a meeting of 10,000 WI members in Wembley arena. The moment was later viewed by some as a turning point, when the relationship between the then popular Labour prime minister and ”middle” England turned sour.

Mrs Bond said she was considering writing to Greg Clark, the planning minister, about the changes, as well as ensuring that the WI contributes to the consultation on the changes, which ends in the middle of next month.

The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in Britain with more than 208,000 members in 6,500 WI branches. “They have got to take more into account, more of people, environment, wildlife,” Mrs Bond said.

”It is a bit ‘here’s a new idea, let’s do this, it will help the economy’. OK, but you have got to think of other things – will it help the economy further down the line?”

The WI is concerned that too few councils had published development plans, which will offer more protection from builders being given a free hand.

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Plant RNAs Found in Mammals

Plant RNAs Found in Mammals

MicroRNAs from plants accumulate in mammalian blood and tissues, where they can regulate gene expression.

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Posted 20 September 2011, by Cristina Luiggi, The Scientist, the-scientist.com

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MicroRNAs from common plant crops such as rice and cabbage can be found in the blood and tissues of humans and other plant-eating mammals, according to a study published today in Cell Research. One microRNA in particular, MIR168a, which is highly enriched in rice, was found to inhibit a protein that helps removes low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from the blood, suggesting that microRNAs can influence gene expression across kingdoms.

“This is a very exciting piece of work that suggests that the food we eat may directly regulate gene expression in our bodies,” said Clay Marsh, Director of the Center for Personalized Health Care at the Ohio State University College of Medicine who researches microRNA expression in human blood but who was not involved in the study.

MicroRNAs are, as the name implies, very short RNA sequences (approximately 22 nucleotides in length) discovered in the early 1990s. They are known to modulate gene expression by binding to mRNA, often resulting in inhibition. With the recent discovery that microRNAs circulate the blood by hitching a ride in small membrane-encased particles known as microvesicles (see our July 2011 feature on microvesicles, “Exosome Explosion”), there has been a surge of interest in microRNAs as a novel class of biomarkers for a variety of diseases.

Chen-Yu Zhang, a molecular biologist at Nanjing University in China, was studying the role of circulating microRNAs in health and disease when he discovered that microRNAs are present in other bodily fluids such as milk. This gave him the “crazy idea” that exogenous microRNAs, such as those ingested through the consumption of milk, could also be found circulating in the serum of mammals, he recalled.

To test his hypothesis, Zhang and his team of researchers sequenced the blood microRNAs of 31 healthy Chinese subjects and searched for the presence of plant microRNAs. Because plant microRNAs are structurally different from those of mammals, they react differently to oxidizing agents, and the researchers were able to differentiate the two by treating them with sodium periodate, which oxidizes mammal but not plant microRNAs.

To their surprise, they found about 40 types of plant microRNAs circulating in the subjects’ blood—some of which were found in concentrations that were comparable to major endogenous human microRNAs.

The plant microRNAs with the highest concentrations were MIR156a and MIR168a, both of which are known to be enriched in rice and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli. Furthermore, the researchers detected the two microRNAs in the blood, lungs, small intestine, and livers of mice, in variable concentrations that significantly increased after the mice were fed raw rice (although cooked rice was also shown to contain intact MIR168a).

Next, the researchers scoured sequence databases for putative target genes of MIR156a and MIR168a and found that MIR168a shared sequence complementarity with approximately 50 mammalian genes. The most highly conserved of these sequences across the animal kingdom was the exon 4 of the low-density lipoprotein receptor adapter protein 1 gene (LDLRAP1).

LDLRAP1 is highly expressed in the liver, where it interacts with the low-density lipoprotein receptor to help remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka “bad” cholesterol, from the blood.

The researchers hypothesized that MIR168a could be taken up by the epithelial cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, packaged into microvesicles, and secreted into the blood stream, where they can make their way to target organs. Once in the liver, MIR168a binds to LDLRAP1 mRNA, reducing the protein levels and ultimately impairing the removal of LDL from the blood.

To test this hypothesis in vitro, the researchers transfected synthetic MIR168a into a human epithelial cell line and collected the secreted microvesicles. When they added these microvesicles to a liver cell line called HepG2, they found that while it did not change the levels of LDLRAP1 mRNA, it did decrease the levels of the actual LDLRAP1 protein.

Likewise, the LDLRAP1 protein level decreased in the livers of live mice 3 to 7 days after eating fresh rice or being injected with synthetic MIR168a—significantly increasing LDL in the blood. When the researchers injected the mice with an RNA sequence that bound to and neutralized MIR168a, the protein and LDL levels returned to normal.

“This microRNA inhibits this protein and increased the plasma LDL levels,” Zhang said. With higher levels of circulating cholesterol, “it can possibly increase the risk of metabolic syndrome,” he added. But more importantly, this research points to a “new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of diseases,” based on the enhancement or inhibition of exogenous microRNAs.

Although the team has still a long way to go in elucidating the mechanisms by which plant microRNAs can regulate gene expression in humans, these initial results promise to increase the understanding of how specific ingredients in food can mediate health and disease, Marsh said.

Indeed, Zhang suspects that this is just one example of many. With time, “I’m confident other people will find more exogenous plant microRNAs that can pass through the GI tract and also have effects on the host physiology,” Zhang said.

L. Zhang, et. al., “Exogenous plant MIR168a specifically targets mammalian LDLRAP1: evidence of cross-kingdom regulation by microRNA,” Cell Research, doi:10.1038/cr.2011.158, 2011.

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Mammoth Blood in the ER? By Rachel NuwerA 35,000-year old woolly mammoth blood protein may aid in contemporary medical procedures.

1918 Flu Spread Before Peak By Tia Ghose

The 1918 influenza was circulating silently before it began killing millions of people in just a year and a half.

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http://the-scientist.com/2011/09/20/plant-rnas-found-in-mammals/

UN: Indigenous Peoples abused in race for natural resources

UN: Indigenous Peoples abused in race for natural resources

Indigenous peoples suffer abuses in race for natural resources – UN rights expert

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Posted 20 September 2011, by Brenda Norrell, Censored News, bsnorrell.blogspot.com

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Special Rapporteur James Anaya

UN News Centre

20 September 2011 
Posted at Censored News

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Extraction of natural resources and other major development projects in or near the territories of indigenous peoples is one of the most significant sources of abuse of their human rights worldwide, an independent United Nations expert warned today.

“In its prevailing form, the model for advancing with natural resource extraction within the territories of indigenous peoples appears to run counter to the self-determination of indigenous peoples in the political, social and economic spheres,” the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples James Anaya told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In a report based on answers to a questionnaire he distributed to governments, indigenous peoples and organizations, business corporations and other actors, he cited conflicting viewpoints on the potential adverse impact and benefits of such activities as mining, forestry, oil and natural gas extraction and hydroelectric projects in indigenous territories.

He said he had made it a priority to reconcile the differing views and courses of action to ensure the full protection of indigenous rights and promote best practices through a broad dialogue with governments, indigenous peoples’ organizations, corporate actors and international institutions, in which consensus-building would be a key element.

“The lack of a minimum common ground for understanding the key issues by all actors concerned entails a major barrier for the effective protection and realization of indigenous peoples’ rights,” he added, praising a new Peruvian law compelling private companies to consult indigenous communities before going ahead with major projects such as mining.

Among key concerns, Mr. Anaya included the gradual loss of control by indigenous peoples over lands, territories and natural resources; water source depletion and contamination for drinking, farming and grazing; the adverse effects of water and airborne pollution on overall community health; and an increase in infectious diseases spread by interaction with workers or settlers.

Another concern was the adverse impact on indigenous social structures and cultures, including alarming rates of alcoholism and prostitution previously unheard of among such peoples, imported by illegal loggers or miners, non-indigenous workers and industry personnel in specific projects, and increased traffic due to the construction of roads and other infrastructure.

“Submissions by indigenous peoples and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also reported an escalation of violence by government and private security forces as a consequence of extractive operations in indigenous territories, especially against indigenous leaders,” Mr. Anaya noted. “A general repression of human rights was reported in situations where entire communities had voiced their opposition to extractive operations.”

Several governments highlighted the key importance of natural resource extraction projects for their domestic economies that, reportedly accounting for up to 60 to 70 per cent of the gross national product (GNP) in some countries, with positive benefits for indigenous peoples.

Mining companies noted that indigenous peoples have been direct beneficiaries of basic infrastructure construction such as roads, communications, electricity and water services, as well as health and educational opportunities.

But most indigenous peoples underscored the adverse effects on their environment, culture and societies, which they said outweighed the minimal or short-term benefits arising out of extractive operations.

For example, a member of the Pemon people of Venezuela reported that benefits from extractive industries were not a top priority within the community, which sought “healthy communities, with no infections, in a pollution-free environment,” Mr. Anaya said.

Similarly, an organization representing the traditional authorities of the Cofan people of Colombia concluded that “indigenous peoples are left with no option other than to try to find something positive for their communities out of the disaster left behind by the extraction of oil, mineral, and other resources” in their lands.

“The vast majority of indigenous peoples’ responses, many of which stemmed from the direct experience of specific projects affecting their territories and communities, rather emphasized a common perception of disenfranchisement, ignorance of their rights and concerns on the part of States and businesses enterprises, and constant life insecurity in the face of encroaching extractive activities,” Mr. Anaya said.

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http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/09/un-indigenous-peoples-abused-in-race.html

Day 4: At least five arrested, one may be in critical condition

Day 4: At least five arrested, one may be in critical condition

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Posted 20 September 2011, by OccupyWallSt, Occupy Wall Street!, occupywallst.org

Early this morning at least five protesters were arrested by NYPD.

The first arrest was a protester who objected to the police removing a tarp that was protecting our media equipment from the rain. The police said that the tarp constituted a tent, in spite of it not being a habitat in any way. Police continued pressuring protesters with extralegal tactics, saying that a protester on a bullhorn was breaking a law. The protester refused to cease exercising his first amendment rights and was also arrested. Then the police began to indiscriminately attempt to arrest protesters, many of them unsheathed their batons, in spite of the fact that the protest remained peaceful.

The new residents of Liberty Square continued to serve as shining examples of law abiding behavior in spite of police harassment and the loose interpretation and selective enforcement of New York’s laws by the NYPD.

Please be warned that the contents of the following videos may be difficult to watch:

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We will continue to post updates as new information becomes available.
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(Ed Note: Please visit the original site for more content and timely updates.)

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https://occupywallst.org/article/day4-arrests/

Third Communiqué: A Message From Occupied Wall Street

Third Communiqué: A Message From Occupied Wall Street

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Posted 20 September 2011, by , Occupy Wall Street, occupywallst.org

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The resistance continues at Liberty Plaza, with free pizza 😉

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We’re still here. We intend to stay until we see movements toward real change in our country and the world. This is the third communiqué from the 99 percent.

Today, we occupied Wall Street from the heart of the Financial District. Starting at 8:00 AM, we began a march through the Wall Street area, rolling through the blocks around the New York Stock Exchange. At 9:30 AM, we rang our own “morning bell” to start a “people’s exchange,” which we brought back to Liberty Plaza. Two more marches occurred during the day around the Wall Street district, each drawing more supporters to us.

Hundreds of us have been occupying One Liberty Plaza, a park in the heart of the Wall Street district, since Saturday afternoon. We have marched on the Financial District, held a candlelight vigil to honor the fallen victims of Wall Street, and filled the plaza with song, dance, and spontaneous acts of liberation.

Food has been donated to the plaza from supporters all over the world. Online donations for pizza, falafels, and other food are coming in from supporters in Omaha, Madrid, Montreal, and other cities, and have exceeded $8,660. (Link to donate: www.wepay.com/donate/99275)

On Saturday we held a general assembly, two thousand strong, based on a consensus-driven decision-making process. Decisions were made for the group to occupy Liberty Plaza in the Wall Street corridor, bedding down in sleeping bags and donated blankets. By 8:00 PM on Monday we still held the plaza, despite constant police presence.

We speak as one. All of our decisions, from our choices to march on Wall Street to our decision to camp at Liberty Plaza were decided through a consensus process by the group, for the group. We are building the world that we want to see, based on human need and sustainability, not corporate greed.

Planned and spontaneous actions will continue throughout the coming days. Expect us.

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https://occupywallst.org/forum/third-communique/

The call to occupy Wall Street resonates around the world

 

The call to occupy Wall Street resonates around the world

We need deeper changes to our financial system, or tent cities of people angry at corporate greed will keep appearing

People protest during the 'Occupy Wall Street' rally at Bowling Green Plaza on 17 September. Photograph: Steven Greaves/Demotix/Corbis

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Posted 19 September 2011, by and , The Guardian (Guardian News and Media Ltd.), guardian.co.uk

 

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On Saturday 17 September, many of us watched in awe as 5,000 Americans descended on to the financial district of lower Manhattan, waved signs, unfurled banners, beat drums, chanted slogans and proceeded to walk towards the “financial Gomorrah” of the nation. They vowed to “occupy Wall Street” and to “bring justice to the bankers”, but the New York police thwarted their efforts temporarily, locking down the symbolic street with barricades and checkpoints.

Undeterred, protesters walked laps around the area before holding a people’s assembly and setting up a semi-permanent protest encampment in a park on Liberty Street, a stone’s throw from Wall Street and a block from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Three hundred spent the night, several hundred reinforcements arrived the next day and as we write this article, the encampment is rolling out sleeping bags once again. When they tweeted to the world that they were hungry, a nearby pizzeria received $2,800 in orders for delivery in a single hour. Emboldened by an outpouring of international solidarity, these American indignados said they’d be there to greet the bankers when the stock market opened on Monday. It looks like, for now, the police don’t think they can stop them. ABC News reports that “even though the demonstrators don’t have a permit for the protest, [the New York police department says that] they have no plans to remove those protesters who seem determined to stay on the streets.” Organisers on the ground say, “we’re digging in for a long-term occupation“.

#OCCUPYWALLSTREET was inspired by the people’s assemblies of Spain and floated as a concept by a double-page poster in the 97th issue of Adbusters magazine, but it was spearheaded, orchestrated and accomplished by independent activists. It all started when Adbusters asked its network of culture jammers to flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens and peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. The idea caught on immediately on social networks and unaffiliated activists seized the meme and built an open-source organising site. A few days later, a general assembly was held in New York City and 150 people showed up. These activists became the core organisers of the occupation. The mystique of Anonymous pushed the meme into the mainstream media. Their video communique endorsing the action garnered 100,000 views and a warning from the Department of Homeland Security addressed to the nation’s bankers. When, in August, the indignados of Spain sent word that they would be holding a solidarity event in Madrid’s financial district, activists in Milan, Valencia, London, Lisbon, Athens, San Francisco, Madison, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Israel and beyond vowed to do the same.

There is a shared feeling on the streets around the world that the global economy is a Ponzi scheme run by and for Big Finance. People everywhere are waking up to the realisation that there is something fundamentally wrong with a system in which speculative financial transactions add up, each day, to $1.3tn (50 times more than the sum of all the commercial transactions). Meanwhile, according to a United Nations report, “in the 35 countries for which data exist, nearly 40% of jobseekers have been without work for more than one year”.

“CEOs, the biggest corporations, and the wealthy are taking too much from our country and I think it’s time for us to take back,” said one activist who joined the protests last Saturday. Jason Ahmadi, who travelled in from Oakland, California explained that “a lot of us feel there is a large crisis in our economy and a lot of it is caused by the folks who do business here”. Bill Steyerd, a Vietnam veteran from Queens, said “it’s a worthy cause because people on Wall Street are blood-sucking warmongers”.

There is not just anger. There is also a sense that the standard solutions to the economic crisis proposed by our politicians and mainstream economists – stimulus, cuts, debt, low interest rates, encouraging consumption – are false options that will not work. Deeper changes are needed, such as a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions; reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act in the US; implementing a ban on high-frequency “flash” trading. The “too big to fail” banks must be broken up, downsized and made to serve the people, the economy and society again. The financial fraudsters responsible for the 2008 meltdown must be brought to justice. Then there is the long-term mother of all solutions: a total rethinking of western consumerism that throws into question how we measure progress.

If the current economic woes in Europe and the US spiral into a prolonged global recession, people’s encampments will become a permanent fixtures at financial districts and outside stock markets around the world. Until our demands are met and the global economic regime is fundamentally reformed, our tent cities will keep popping up.

Bravo to those courageous souls in the encampment on New York’s Liberty Street. Every night that #OCCUPYWALLSTREET continues will escalate the possibility of a full-fledged global uprising against business as usual.

 

 

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/sep/19/occupy-wall-street-financial-system

Second Communiqué: A Message From Occupied Wall Street

 

Second Communiqué: A Message From Occupied Wall Street

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Posted 20 September 2011, by , Occupy Wqall Street, occupywallst.org

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The resistance continues at Liberty Plaza, with free pizza 😉

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This is the second communiqué from the 99 percent. We are occupying Wall Street.

On September 18th, 2011, about 400 of us woke up in the Financial District amidst heavy police presence. After an impromptu dance party, we resumed our General Assembly in One Liberty Plaza around ten in the morning. We made our demands heard, which are many but revolve around a common point: our voice will no longer be ignored.

At noon a large group of us marched through the Financial District and Battery Park chanting “this is what democracy looks like.” During our march many onlookers joined our ranks, while many more expressed solidarity with our cause. By the time the detachment returned to One Liberty Plaza over 100 sympathizers had joined us. Our efforts were bolstered by generous donations of food and water from across the country and the world. As the day progressed our numbers continued to grow, and by three in the afternoon we were more than a thousand strong.

Before sunset 500 of us marched on the Financial District, where hundreds of onlookers joined us. After we reconvened the General Assembly the police demanded we remove our signs, but they did it for us instead. Later, they threatened to arrest us for using a bullhorn, so we spoke together in one voice, louder than any amplifier.

We speak as one. All of our decisions, from our choice to march on Wall Street to our decision to continue occupying One Liberty Plaza, were decided through a consensus process by the group, for the group.

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(Ed Note: Please visit the original site for more content associated with this article.)

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https://occupywallst.org/article/second-communique-a-message-from-occupied-wall-t/